Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Lover Is the Cross on Which His Beloved Is Stretched

Many Christians bear the invisible stigmata, for after all suffering is a part of Christian life; but that is only our share in the lot of all humankind.  Our sufferings come from many sources, not the least from ourselves.  I grieve that I cause pain to others, and thus to myself.

Christian lovers, who have considered within themselves the nature of Love, will have known from the beginning that there is another side to the early delight.  To them it is a place of purgation as well as joy; it is in truth a little universe of place and time, of earth, of purgatory, of heaven or hell.  The companion in this experience is to him or to her the instrument of fire which shall burn away his corrupt part. . .

Love is Holiness and Divine Indignation; the placidity of an ordinary married life is the veil of a spiritual passage into profound things.  Nor is this all; the lover knows himself also to be the cross upon which the Beloved is to be stretched, and so she also of her lover.[i]

Paul advocates, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”[ii]  It is sometimes necessary to die to ourselves even as Christ died to himself.  That dying is not academic, but personal and painful.  There is suffering within marriage.  It would be some sort of solace if we could delude ourselves into thinking that we were not at least partially responsible for the pain that we are experiencing.  Sometimes we are largely responsible, at other times we are not; but it really doesn't matter who is to blame.  The blame game has no place in our surrender to being stretched on the cross of our beloved.

It is natural to desire to avoid the pain; but it is necessary to tread the way of acceptance rather than to kick against the goads.  Sometimes the inner being throws up a froth of anger, resentment, and self-pity, stemming from a sense of helplessness.  Giving vent to these things only rubs the wounds raw.  The problem in part is our desire to control the outcome and reduce our pain, but what if that is not possible.  Then what does one do?  Make your surrender to God in the real situation in which you find yourself. Live in the real, the now, and forsake the past.  You cannot yet live in the future; do not borrow its imagined woes. Resist the temptation to fix what is not yours to fix.  Pray and pray again.  Use the tools of your faith.  Read Scripture, learn, and inwardly digest.  Turn your reading into prayer.  Listen, and be responsive.  Fear not, but trust in the One who redeems all things.

[i] Charles Williams, Outlines of Romantic Theology, ed. Alice Mary Hatfield, (Berkeley, CA: The Apocryphile Press,  2005), p. 23. 
[ii] Ephesians 5:25  

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